I have always been an avid runner. There is a joy in running outdoors in good weather. There is a liberating feeling while running and once you have finished, a deep sense of accomplishment. Not to forget the health perspective!
When I was in Philadelphia, Bala Cynwyd to be precise, I used to go running outdoors regularly. There was a track right next to my apartment – The Bala Cynwyd Heritage Track, approximately 1.8 miles if I am not mistaken. Needless to say when I moved back to Mumbai, I tried a ‘leg’ at running here, just to continue the good habit. It was not a smart idea! The hurdles I faced were cars, bikes, trucks, rickshaws honking at me. The dirty streets dug up with fresh and dried poop (which I assumed was due to stray dogs, but I have been wrong before). It was more of an obstacle course than a running track. It was more of stressful than rejuvenating experience.
All this made me think, of a simple solution – How about a track over here in my own backyard. Why not give this a shot. I am not a journalist, I am not an activist, I am not politically connected, I am not a writer, I am just a simple person who has a strong will to express his desires for the betterment of his community. With that deep sense of improvement, I am expressing an idea for “The Jogger’s Mile” in Juhu.
The Jogger’s Mile – just as the name suggests, the track is exactly 1 Mile or 1.60 Kilometers. It is a 1 mile loop, so you can start anywhere. Now here are some features that I have thought about regarding it’s feasibility and sustainability.
- Designated Route: The route needs to be marked. It has to have some sort of a pavement which is used only by pedestrians. This route cannot be used by anyone who wants to stroll around and create a mess. It’s sole purpose is for joggers, runners and morning/evening walkers.
- Width: The track has to be a minimum of 5 feet wide, split down the middle. Walk on the left, run on the right. We could even cleanup the existing side walk or footpath (as it’s called in Mumbai) and actually make some use of it rather than spitting paan, throwing garbage or even defecating on it.
- Markers: There will be double sided, 2 feet x 1 feet markers, every 100 meters in order to keep track of the distance.
- Advertisement: The markers will serve a dual purpose – Advertisement for revenue generation. The markers can be used as mini-billboards for advertisement at a fixed monthly amount. The unds collected can be utilized for the maintenance of the track.
- Privately Maintained: The track will have to be maintained through donations & advertisements. BMC should not have complete responsibility of maintenance. We as citizens have to take up ownership and a shared responsibility.
- Paid Staff: There must be a team who’s sole job is upkeep of the track. Make sure that it’s clean at all hours, pavement is maintained in good shape, etc.
- Pet Policy: Pets will be welcome for a walk or run on the track. However, it is entirely your responsibility to clean it’s poop. Carry the poop bags and dump it in trash baskets strategically located.
It’s an initial idea that I have in mind. The reason why I call this phase 1 is because I have ideas of extending the track through the beach, which is the beauty of Juhu and Mumbai. There is a possibility of having an additional or extension track for cycling enthusiasts. The format can be replicated easily and successfully. It does not have to be limited to just one area. It can be used throughout the country, especially in larger townships outside major metro cities.
My biggest hurdle is I do not know how to market this? Who to approach? Will the BMC approve? However, I am confident that once it’s made, people will come. The self sustaining aspect of it should keep it functional. It would be an ideal place for training for the Mumbai Marathon. It will be a great place for your morning and evening walks. Maybe it’s time for a positive change and I hope someone reads this and send me an email or leaves a comment. I for one would love to be a part of this venture.